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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Verdict leaves ‘secular intellectuals’ aghast

By Swapan Dasgupta

The suggestion that India has 'moved on' from the turbulent decade of conflict may have become the shorthand for lazy and facile thinking. Yet, there is more than a grain of truth in the deduction that India's priorities have changed significantly in the past 25 years. Last Thursday's High Court judgment on Ayodhya was followed keenly by the entire country. The authorities were apprehensive that the outcome could trigger disturbances and even rioting. But nothing untoward happened either on Thursday or after the Friday prayers. The sound and fury was confined to the tamasha in the TV studios. There were reports of simmering anger in the 'Muslim street' and a few inflammatory sermons from the pulpit but the disquiet, if any, was internalised.

The matter-of-fact way in which India digested the complex High Court judgment suggests three possibilities. Perhaps people just weren't interested—a plausible explanation in a country where the sense of history is feeble. Maybe, people had heeded the Home Minister's advice and were mulling over the verdict's implications—an implausible explanation in an easily excitable country. Finally, it is indeed possible that most of India thought the verdict—particularly the order for a three-way partition of the contentious 2.77 acres—was fair, just and based on the one thing that counts: robust common sense.

The suggestion that the High Court verdict has enjoyed a spectacular degree of popular acceptance runs counter to the indignation in "intellectual" circles. Not since the Supreme Court's Shah Bano verdict in 1986 was rubbished by clerics and some ministers of the Rajiv Gandhi Government has any court judgment been at the receiving end of so much abuse by so few.

Those who till 4 pm on September 28 were solemnly pontificating on the "majesty of the law" and the overriding importance of the Indian Constitution went completely berserk after it became that the Sunni Waqf Board petition had been rejected and that the court had favoured the Ram lalla deity with possession of its perceived janmasthan. The judgment was compared to a "panchayati" order and "majoritarian conceit" and painted as being so outrageous that it destroyed Muslim faith in the judicial process. Additionally, it was pilloried for having reduced Muslims to second class citizens.

It is understandable that those convinced of a favourable verdict were deeply disappointed. Ironically, the intemperate, inflammatory and indecorous language didn't come from the representatives of either the Sunni Waqf Board or the Muslim Personal Law Board. Apart from the MP from Hyderabad's Razakar party who was his usual provocative self, it was the cream of India's liberal chic that went berserk.

Some of the outburst was predictable. Those whom Arun Shourie dubbed the "eminent historians" were understandably agitated that the High Court judges had the effrontery to discount their 'no-temple-ever' assertions in favour of the evidence culled by the Archaeological Survey of India. Their spirited attempt to reclaim the mantle of sole spokesmen for India's past was understandable. If the courts discount their fatwas, it was only a matter of time before the stifled voices of other historians would make their departmental dominance more fragile.

Also following the script was the apoplectic fury of those who had hitherto been the respectable face of secularist modernity. Their apprehension was any possibility that the Hindu and Muslim leaderships would cut a deal above their heads and make redundant their franchise to speak on behalf of the minority. For two days and courtesy some TV channels, the secular modernists attempted to whip up Muslim opinion against the judgment and use the community's apparent displeasure to force the Government into using its proverbial "good offices" with the Supreme Court. The overall idea is to build up an intellectual climate so forceful that the Supreme Court would think it prudent to overturn the High Court judgment.

The provocative, self-preservation tactics of the thekedars of conflict—one 'secular' lady saidthat the Indian state no longer had a social contract with Muslims, an assertion that could well be construed as legitimising terrorism—would have certainly had a disorienting effect had it been backed by community pressure. Without mincing words, the professional secularists are trying to create a fresh communal schism by nurturing minority victimhood. It's a very dangerous game.

Fortunately, India is a country where nothing is really ever perceived in black and white; there are always enough shades of grey to muddy the search for total clarity. There is a constant search for compromise—what is colloquially called 'adjust'—to cope with life's difficulties. True, the quest for harmonious equilibrium does break down occasionally—as it did during the Ayodhya movement—but the desire for unflinching certitudes is usually short-lived.

By coupling the letter of the law with the spirit of reconciliation, the High Court has set the framework of a solution. It is important that Middle India is unflinching in its determination to herald a compromise that accommodates both the desire for a Ram temple and an undisputed mosque. For that it is important to not rise to the secularist provocation and keep faith in the good sense of an India that wants to be at peace with all its citizens. If both the Congress and the BJP can keep its nerve and maintain composure, India will soon be witnessing the end of the Ayodhya dispute.

Sunday Pioneer, October 3, 2010

10 comments:

bjp_supporter said...

There is so much secular fury at the high court judgment considering faith and religion. Looks to me India has really, finally moved on. Time to bury the abhorrent shariah and implement uniform civil code.

It is the decadence of Nehruvian secularism in full display. The AIMPLB lawyer says his Shariah does not allow him any option other than appeal, and in the next sentence he says this judgment uses faith!

Anonymous said...

Is there only one nationalist newspaper in India? How come only the Pioneer publishes articles that do not toe the pseudo-secular line? Why don't the Times of Islamabad or the (China's)Hindu publish such articles?

satyam said...

sir.. right said...the irony is that i feel more HINDU when i read the secular LEFT intellectuals' opinions than i have ever done in my life...

Anonymous said...

The verdict is actually a bombshell for these so-called experts. Here are the observations of Justice Agarwal(Page 3640):

"
Normally, the Court do not make adverse comments on the deposition of witness and suffice it to consider whether it is credible or not but we find it difficult to resist ourselves in this particular case considering the sensitivity and the nature of dispute and also the reckless and irresponsible kind of statements, and the material got published by the persons claiming to be Expert Historian, Archaeologist etc. without
making any proper investigation, research or study in the
subject.
This is really startling. It not only surprises us but we are puzzled. Such kind of statements to public at large causes more confusion than clear the things. Instead of helping in making a cordial atmosphere it tend to create more complications, conflict and controversy. Such people should
refrain from making such statements or written work. They must be extremely careful and cautious before making any statement
in public on such issues."

Still Romila Thapar and party go on withteir charade of 'expertise' and all.

Vikram said...

I tried to leave a comment on the 'Hindu' newspaper site in response to an article there expressing the same outrage of the secular historians...I don't think they will publish the comment which is as below -->

---------

So the only possible verdict in this case according to 'Sahmat' which would have upholded secular principles would have been the rebuidling of Babri masjid on the exact same spot?

Few questions for Sahmat

(1) Ayodhya has many more mosques apart from Babri masjid - so why is that Hindu groups are asking for only this particular site to be returned to them? If they were really rabid communalists as they are painted, wouldnt they be demanding all mosques in such a city so holy for them are removed?

(2)If the argument is that it is around 500 years since the mosque was built and it hard to verify facts - my point is that Hindus have been persistently arguing their case since they were allowed a forum to do so after the Delhi sultanate ended. In an 1886 judgement, The British district judge of Faizabad agreed that the land was held sacred by Hindus.

(3) There is overwhelming evidence recovered by ASI from the debris of the 1992 demolition which shows that material from an older Hindu temple was used in the mosque construction. Again, this is a historical fact that Muslim invaders used to destroy structures of other religions and construct mosques as a mark of victory and to propogate Islam. So common sense would suggest that something similar was done in the case of Babri masjid too - even if the ASI report on the deeper excavation is 'controversial'.

(3) No Hindu is saying that sites considered holy by Muslims such as Haji Ali, Ajmer dargah, Jama Masjid should be handed over. All they are saying is that the strucures which were destroyed at Ayodhya, Kashi & Mathura at sites considered holy by Hindus (and the significance of these sites is not a recent development as some would try to suggest) be returned to Hindus as a matter of natural justice.

(4) Why does Sahmat find it so difficult to digest a verdict which has gone against their version of what secularism represents? Why is secularism interpreted as a complete denial of Hindu religious beliefs? And if they have believed over the centuries that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya at that site, why is the belief being mocked. Some have even asked for proof of Rama's existence...does that matter?

(5) Don't Western governments (the fountainhead of secularism, I am sure Sahmat would agree) accord a special position to the Vatican and treat the Pope as a head of state almost? Which Hindu organization is asking for that kind of recognition from the Indian government? Why can't a nation have modern laws and institutions and still respect the majority religion - after all our civilizational ethos is directly linked to that very same dharma...starting from our very names! It is that very same tolerant majority that has kept India secular to this day, and allows people to practise other faiths or be atheists if they wish without discrimination.

Vikram said...

I tried to leave a comment on the 'Hindu' newspaper site in response to an article there expressing the same outrage of the secular historians...I don't think they will publish the comment which is as below -->

---------

So the only possible verdict in this case according to 'Sahmat' which would have upholded secular principles would have been the rebuidling of Babri masjid on the exact same spot?

Few questions for Sahmat

(1) Ayodhya has many more mosques apart from Babri masjid - so why is that Hindu groups are asking for only this particular site to be returned to them? If they were really rabid communalists as they are painted, wouldnt they be demanding all mosques in such a city so holy for them are removed?

(2)If the argument is that it is around 500 years since the mosque was built and it hard to verify facts - my point is that Hindus have been persistently arguing their case since they were allowed a forum to do so after the Delhi sultanate ended. In an 1886 judgement, The British district judge of Faizabad agreed that the land was held sacred by Hindus.

(3) There is overwhelming evidence recovered by ASI from the debris of the 1992 demolition which shows that material from an older Hindu temple was used in the mosque construction. Again, this is a historical fact that Muslim invaders used to destroy structures of other religions and construct mosques as a mark of victory and to propogate Islam. So common sense would suggest that something similar was done in the case of Babri masjid too - even if the ASI report on the deeper excavation is 'controversial'.

(3) No Hindu is saying that sites considered holy by Muslims such as Haji Ali, Ajmer dargah, Jama Masjid should be handed over. All they are saying is that the strucures which were destroyed at Ayodhya, Kashi & Mathura at sites considered holy by Hindus (and the significance of these sites is not a recent development as some would try to suggest) be returned to Hindus as a matter of natural justice.

(4) Why does Sahmat find it so difficult to digest a verdict which has gone against their version of what secularism represents? Why is secularism interpreted as a complete denial of Hindu religious beliefs? And if they have believed over the centuries that Lord Rama was born in Ayodhya at that site, why is the belief being mocked. Some have even asked for proof of Rama's existence...does that matter?

(5) Don't Western governments (the fountainhead of secularism, I am sure Sahmat would agree) accord a special position to the Vatican and treat the Pope as a head of state almost? Which Hindu organization is asking for that kind of recognition from the Indian government? Why can't a nation have modern laws and institutions and still respect the majority religion - after all our civilizational ethos is directly linked to that very same dharma...starting from our very names! It is that very same tolerant majority that has kept India secular to this day, and allows people to practise other faiths or be atheists if they wish without discrimination.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more Mr. Dasgupta, you are the voice of reason. If only there were more like you in India.

ravinder said...

If this verdict is not accepted by P-sec because of the introduction of faith into the legal system then we must have Uniform Civil Code and do away with all Communal Personal Laws.

P-sec think they can cry foul everytime they are not on top. Bbbrrrrrr.... bad idea.

Anonymous said...

visit the link
http://qwerty-thomas.blogspot.com/

for more secret information on this topic

Meghana said...

Burkha, after a long gruelling session on TV where she allowed the slimy likes of Oawais go scot-free, was royally bashed up by the twitterati. A handful tweets that she responded to, were the ones that complimented her on her new hair-do. After the historic verdict and the obvious disappointment, there was not much really left to respond to.

Meghana